Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I wanted to pass along a fun, team/class building game I lovingly borrowed from my 10th and 11th grade English teacher and now use in my classroom.  This awesome game is called TAPEBALL.

Here's how you play:

  • Get several pieces of paper (the thicker the better) and wad it up.  Then take masking (or my favorite blue painters' tape) and "tape" the ball until all of the paper is covered.  Your tapeball should be about the size of a softball or bigger.

  • Have your kids sit in a circle in their chairs...there shouldn't be any "holes" in the chair circle.
  • Explain the rules:
    • You have to remain in your chair...seated...at all times.
    • You can only hit the ball once, then someone else has to hit it (no juggling)
    • You can't "rally" the tapeball between 2 people; diversify the tapeball movement throughout the circle (try and get everyone involved!)
    • The tapeball should be hit in a "lifting" manner (meaning no volleyball spikes or swats!)
    • No catching.  No throwing.  All hitting (use either one hand or both hands held together).
  • The goal of this game is to get as deep into the alphabet (or highest number, whatever you prefer) as possible.  Each hit equals a letter.  If you get to Z you just start back over at A (and make note that group got through the alphabet and back around a second/third/fourth/etc... time).
For added team/class building, you can have the students brainstorm first their strategy/strategies for the game and then they can assess how well they worked or what needs improvement when the game is over.  You can play this game for as short or as long of a time as you want.  I use it a lot for those "time fillers" when my lesson gets through faster than anticipated and I don't want to start something new (maybe only have 5-10 minutes left in class) and just want a fun activity to end the day with.  I keep a scoreboard on a poster in my room so we can keep track of all of the different periods' scores throughout the year.

Honestly, my kids LOVE this game.  They get really into it and ask to play it ALL the time (which we don't, cause if we did I think it'd lose it's attractiveness).  It really gets everyone involved, interacting together, and working as a team trying to come up with different strategies of how to keep the tapeball in the air the longest.  I bet this game would work in office settings too.  I think someone needs to pilot this for me and let me know if it's an adult work environment game.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Great Resources

This is a blog dedicated to all my teacher buddies out there.  I thought I'd pass along some of my favorite resources for you all.  I'm going to try and do this more often, because there is SO much good stuff out there that I find I feel like I need to "pay it forward" and pass it along to all of you.  And feel free to comment and leave some resources of your own as well!  Teachers are very good at "borrowing" things, so I wanted to give you all a nice pile of things to borrow.  Enjoy!

Awesome list of iPad apps for social studies teachers: app list

Really neat 60 second video about what's great about America (& not just for social studies teachers...this can be a great introduction to current events, or a writing piece prompt!): video

I use this website ALL THE TIME to create word clouds (like the one below) to visually illustrate a concept for my kiddos.  The kids also love using this site too for various activities or assignments.  word clouds

I saw this guy present at a conference last year and he was fantastic.  The resources he has and tweets/blogs about are just amazing.  Check out Dr. Howie on twitter or his blog...and it's not just all education stuff, he tweets and blogs a lot about current technology (lots of Apple/iPhone talk!) as well.

Another really cool site by this group call "Flocabulary" where they rap about events in history.  However, this also doesn't have to be just for social studies people; they have Communication Arts/English raps, science raps, and so much more!--it's great for a hook, lesson starter, or a writing prompt!  Here's their "Week in Rap" and YouTube Channel and below is a sample video from them.  The kids LOVE this stuff.

If you aren't using Google, drop what you're doing and go get yourself a Gmail account.  Seriously, this is one of the best tools out there and IT'S FREE!!  There is so much you can do with Google both inside and outside the classroom.  GoogleDocs are great ways to keep all of your "stuff" in the cloud (so no need to worry about your computer crashing...it's all out there in your Google account); and they're great ways for students to type papers, reports, create PowerPoints or slideshows, etc... You can even "share" your docs out with people so multiple people can view and edit them; the kids love sharing a doc out with a group for a project and seeing 4 cursors on the screen typing away.  Here's a good site from Google about all of the "How Tos" with Google Docs.  HOWEVER, Google doesn't stop there--there is the new Google+ social networking feature (where I follow some awesome people and get a lot of great resources), Google Calendar, Google Reader, Picassa (for pictures), and the list goes on.  So if you don't have a Google account you need to go get yourself one NOW.  You'll never regret it and be amazed by all of the cool stuff it offers.

For all my teacher buddies that have a pesky firewall at their school where YouTube is blocked--I have a solution for you.  Yes, it takes a bit more time, but you'll be able to show those YouTube videos on your computer without worrying about the firewall.  When you're at home on your own network, find the videos you want from YouTube and copy their URL and paste it into the site savevid.com--then select the type of file (I always use MP4 because that works universally on PC and Mac) and download it.  Now it's a QuickTime file (or whatever type of file you selected) and you can jump-drive it to your school's computer and show it without having to worry about a firewall.

Whew, that's about all of the resources I have for now...I hope to have more to share with you soon!  Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Not-So-Cosmetic Nose Surgery

Earlier this week I had nasal surgery.  And I'm sure when I've said this some people may assume it's a cosmetic or elective procedure.  False.  As much as I wish I had thousands of dollars lying around to shell out on why not! surgical procedures (even though I never would spend extra money on that...I'd probably by another iPad or some Apple stock--cause did you see Apple has more money than the US Government?!!), this was a very much needed surgery for me and my sinuses.

My mom had this same surgery done many years ago, and over time it looked like I acquired her same sinus passages: allergy-ridden and deviated.  So after many bouts with different medicines and nose sprays didn't work, and a CT showing that my nose was indeed not in the straight form it should be, my doc decided it was time to have a Septoplasty, or fix my deviated septum.  He thought this would help with my nasal troubles and alleviate some of my allergy woes that were seemingly made worse by a crooked nasal passageway (which in turn forced my nose/breathing abilities to work extra hard to try and get air through).

This past Monday Mike graciously took a couple days off so he could take me to my surgery and be there for me when I recovered.  He's such a thoughtful gentleman, isn't he?!  He's definitely a keeper.  Anyways, the surgery went well--took a little longer than expected (almost 2 hours) because my doctor said my nose was "worse than he anticipated" and they had to do some extra repairs while they were up there.  But, he said, they did get to everything and doesn't expect to have to go back in again.  Whew!  That's a relief...but now I'm definitely feeling those "extras" that he did up there.  Hello nasal pain!  Ouchies!!

I've been asking myself since Monday WHY anyone would CHOOSE to have cosmetic surgery, especially on their nose/face if they didn't absolutely need it.  This recovery sucks.  My head feels like it's 1000 pounds, my cheeks, upper lip, gums, and nose all feel super swollen, I still can't breathe (yet) because of the dried blood and stitches that are in my nose, and with the pain meds I'm on it makes all that's going on around me feel very dizzying.  I guess some people will go to any length--including pain and torturing yourself--to beautify their face.  I just have a hard time seeing why someone would go to this length for their appearance.  Me, on the other hand, had no problem taking on this pain...as much as it sucks, I know it's going to pay off.  I'll be able to breathe!  And this is something I hope will lead me to a healthier, happier, and longer life.

So here's hoping for a quick-recovery for my nose and sinuses...feel free to send good healing thoughts my way!  They'll be gladly accepted! :)
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